Archive for the ‘General Reflections’ Category

Imperfections are beautiful.

I think of people, embracing differences.  I think of soap, embracing the beauty of handmade, made from scratch.  We do not cut off the uniqueness from either.  Instead, we celebrate the character.

Love yourself.  Love who you are.  No discounting allowed.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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small business branding

No, I am not talking about taking a red-hot cattle prod, sticking it on you back-side to leave a unique mark.

What I am talking about is your presence on life.

Even if you do not represent or own a business, are you leaving your mark on life responsibly?

Are you being responsible in the sense that you promote positive feelings in others? Are you speaking in words that uplift, or are you speaking in words that leave other’s pondering, perhaps dragging them down with you? Are you speaking in words that etch out your future, the future that you are in control of?

When you write online (a blog post or comments, Facebook status updates and comments, Twitter updates) are you enjoying the freedom of speech (it isn’t always about fluffy soft place), yet, ensuring you represent yourself with dignity? If not, you may be branding yourself for failure.

Everything you do in life is a part of who you are.  If you are a business owner, you are a separate being from your business.  But what you do, each and every footprint, each and every word, each and every decision, is a part of you, and you as the business owner are a part of your brand.  No, you are not Campbell’s Soup, or Tide laundry detergent, but you are ______ (fill in your name) who has the reigns in their hands that will lead their own horse-drawn team into a more positive future (for yourself and others), or you can lead it into the trenches.  Tow trucks are expensive and can leave ruts that stick around for years.

I am not heading into the trenches if I can keep from it.

Are you?

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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Experts tell us to not mix religion or politics with business.

When it comes to certain things in life, I am my own expert.  I do not stand behind too many leaders on this planet.  I listen, I learn, but I do according to my own beliefs, intuition, and wisdom.

I purposely do not mix politics with business.  I understand politics well enough to know who I want to vote for, but I do not study politics enough to want to argue about it.  Politics is one very hot to touch topic.  And honestly, let’s have a safe place where we don’t have to hear about politics.  One of those places:  here.

My personal definition of religion is: a group or individual that believes and practices a faith in their God.

As a business woman I treasure our  freedom to talk about politics and religion.

If I say, “I wish everyone would feel empowered to build upon their God-given talents, those given to you before your birth.”  My intention is not a push of my faith.  My intention is solely based on humanity, my ingrained care for people.

If I quote scripture, which I do from time to time, especially on Twitter, it is what motivates me.  It is my faith.  Never do I expect anyone to follow my religion.  But I will not hide it.  It is who I am.  A non-denominational Christian.

Do I mix religion with business? In the respect that I do not hide my faith, yes.  It is a part of what I was designed to do.  And I know it.

What prompted this blog post? Watch Twitter, Facebook, and blog posts.  There is a wide-range of beliefs in the blogosphere (as much as I hate that term), and I feel there is a lot of fear.  My own self, I love people regardless of what they believe in.  I will not support people who do not respect human lives.

Finished.   Comments?

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Your Job Matters

There are things in life that I wish could change.

The first is, I would love to flip a switch so every living being could see their own talents, their own gifts, and I would love to see them find their “oomph,” a sense of empowerment, to make their unique gifts work for them in life.

I also would like to flip the switch to the “on position” for people who do not see the value of the jobs they do in life.

Flipping a hamburger may not be what you want to do.  You may not want to sweep the carpet.  You may not want to be a bank teller.  You may not want to drive a truck.  Regardless of what you are doing right now, with the exception of unethical work, what you do is a valuable part of the puzzle of life.

When you flip that hamburger, do the people you respond to (the customer standing behind the counter, your manager, your co-workers), know that you are making an effort to complete a part of someone’s day?

When you drive that truck, do you realize that your attitude affects 100’s, or even 1000’s on the road?

When you make that bar of soap, are you honest and careful with your ingredients, knowing that someone is trusting you to their skincare? Do you realize that each bar of soap that you make reflects on your entire industry?

Do your job sloppily as a customer service representative and watch how many lives you affect.  You affect your own demeanor, the well-being of the company you work for, and you affect the person at the other end of the phone conversation.

Here is how I see our work in life:  there is nothing wrong with not liking what we do.  We all do a lot of things that we may not 100% enjoy in life.  Money is a necessity for keeping the lights on.  But, we are very much like ants.  Yes, ants.  Each ant has a job.  One carries a blade of grass.  One carries dirt to build the anthill.  Notably, ants do not complain.  They may spat occasionally, but they do not stop working to display a single ounce of protest.  It is about teamwork.  Does an ant need to be told what to do?

In the human workforce, I see levels of responsibilities, of course, but I also see each and every service performed as a level part of the big picture.  As I write this, I am part of a picture, part of your picture.  Part of a business picture.  Part of a human picture.  We are all on that very same level.  We contribute in one way, shape, or form.

And then there is what I call “dropping the ball.”  Deliberately, because you see no value in your contributions in life.  A person CAN change their role, but until that happens, be responsible for your puzzle piece (your job, your contribution).  Protect it to ensure it still fits the puzzle securely until it is handed to someone else.  Be responsible for your business (or what you do in life), what you say, how you do it, and, #1, be responsible to the people you come in contact with.

You have no excuse.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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I did say no resolutions (for myself).  If you are successful at them, then I urge you to keep them.  Me, and quite a few other people, probably not so much.

I read an article a few weeks ago regarding multi-tasking (here), This Year, Resolve To Do Less Multi-Tasking via CNNMoney (“Plenty of people believe that doing several things at once makes them more productive. In fact, the opposite is true”).  Granted, none of us are Boeing (at least not that I know of), but 64% is a huge number when it is statistical data that reflects increased productivity after a focus on less multi-tasking.

“Many people boast about their multitasking prowess on their resumes and in job interviews,” he adds. “But in reality, this is like saying, ‘I don’t get things done as quickly, or as well, as others do.'”

So, what really is multi-tasking? And why does it seem women are especially good at it?

Business Insider says (here): “Multi-tasking makes us dumber, less productive, and neither gender is better at it”

I agree more with comments in the article in TheWeek (here).  “While ancient men were responsible primarily for hunting and gathering, women had to tend to the children, the house and all the other activities of daily living,” he said. “Over the years, women may have retained this ability, translating into an improved ability to multitask.”

Ladies, don’t get excited, the article goes on to drop the bomb (quote):  So if I’m a woman, multitasking makes me more efficient? “Actually, probably not. There is evidence that multitasking is a drag on productivity for pretty much everyone, regardless of gender. The reason for that relates to basic structure of brain: The right and left hemispheres cooperate when working on a single task, says multitasking researcher Dr. Etienne Koechlin of France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research. “But in two tasks, one hemisphere covers the reward of one task and the other hemisphere covers the reward of the other.” That, unfortunately, applies to both genders.

So, if we are stressed, trying to juggle several tasks at once, are we becoming less efficient even though we feel we are knocking out the list fast and furious? Probably less efficient.  What are we missing?

The ugly reality: Did I really miss paying that bill, and why? Oh, I was on Facebook, flipping back and forth between Pay The Bills on my bank account and Facebook.  Sound the alarm – late fees.  Did I really forget to turn the spigot off when refilling the smaller container of olive oil? Yes, I was checking on a recipe, and looking at packaging, and checking my phone, while the bottle was filling.  Sound the alarm – one hour of clean up in the studio.  Did I really miss that step when I fell to the ground? Sound the alarm – it hurt when I realized I was on the ground and was not thinking about safety first.

What do you think? Are we good at multi-tasking? Can we really multi-task and be efficient? Is there a sliding scale? “I can multi-task at this (fill in the blank), but not while doing that (fill in the blank).”

For now, for me, no resolutions, just mini virtual vacations to Tahiti (if only for a moment), rather than allowing the multi-task focused mind to jump by leaps and bounds.  Focusing on one task cannot be all that boring!

Results forthcoming.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Whoosh…and 2011 goes away!

I do not set resolutions when a new year arrives.  Life itself is a work in progress.  The world constantly changes.  I am a fan of setting personal goals, and even re-setting goals through the year (because nothing remains the same for long).

I have been reading many year-end reviews, and articles about new year’s resolutions, all of which made me think of a wish list rather than a resolution list.

Several articles I read discussed not growing old gracefully.  Dye your hair.  Wear more make-up.  Benefit from plastic surgery.  My opinion, all of those things really are a personal choice.  Allowing the beauty of gray does not make or break a person, nor the professional’s profile.  Using less make-up does not either.  Personally, I see beauty in the eyes.  I see beauty in the hair.  My opinion, love people for what they are, outside of the personna of “perfect.”  If you want to change or improve how you look, more power to you.  If you want to go natural, age gracefully, whatever it may be, more power to you too! My wish –  see beyond the physical exterior.

I hope (wish) for people to realize that they have potential.  I cannot think of a single person that cannot do what they put their mind to doing.   An individual may not have been born to be the next multi-millionaire, and success does not arrive without much digging in the trenches – low and behold (!), but everyone is born to be successful and happy at whatever they love and hold talent to.   My wish – seek out what you want to do in life, make it work for you!

In most recent years, fewer people survive without side-jobs (or the ownership of small businesses), trying to make ends meet (paying for gasoline and purchasing the ever-rising groceries).  I urge folks to continue to purchase local, not from the big guns, pay a few extra cents if you can.  Buy small, it does make a difference.  The bottom dollar pays for the needs of a family, instead of lining the already wealthy person’s pockets sitting in the big office suite.  My wish – support small businesses with every cent that you can!

So, there’s my wish list for everyone.

Was 2011 a good year? It was on my end of the world.  I feel like a much wiser person coming out.  Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps grew once again.  New relationships formed.  New opportunties opened.  Is it more tough on the home-front? You bet it is.  But the fight is on!

2012 is going to be a great year.  I welcome it.  New Year’s Day is another date, merely a number, but it is also a marker for hope – for everyone!

What are your plans for 2012? Do you set resolutions for new years?

By the way…Happy New Year!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Owning a small business isn’t all about rosy smelling flowers in the garden.  Operating a business definitely has expected up and down moments.

Last night I experienced what I’ll call long moments of “up” times as I wheeled the cart around the soap studio gathering lotions, soaps and supplies for customer shipments.

I thought about the gentleman that called a few days ago.  He is 80 years old and said that he is taking care of his terminally ill 78-year-old girlfriend.  The couple had attended a craft show 10 years ago.  She wanted Rosemary goat milk soap.  He refused to purchase the soap for her.  He said to me, “Wouldn’t that have been a small thing to have made her happy?” With a tear in my eye, I replied, “We’ll take care of this now.”  He said, “You know, that stuff stinks! But she wanted it and she should have had it when she wanted it.  It makes her happy.”  I agree.  Let’s put a smile of her face today.  God bless that man.

One of our customers loves a particular essential oil blend that we work into our products.  After purchasing our soap for nearly a year she told me, “The scent reminds me of the cologne that my deceased brother used to wear.”  Apparently her brother loved to mix and match his scents.  The first time she purchased the soap from us she said she was taken back, she was filled with memories.  She recently said that she wanted so badly to make Christmas gifts for her family (potpourri and other items) with our blend.  In her next order I included a 1 ounce bottle of the essential oil blend, with the promise that she send pictures of the Christmas gifts.  She asked, “Even if they look like they were made by a 1st grader?”  Yep, I will hold her to it!

See, life gets tough, business gets tough.  It all gets tough.  But there are moments, and I treasure them, that simply are not irreplaceable.  The customers that cannot decide which soaps to order, the customers that consistently send emails to me, “Throw in what you like.  I love it all.”  Those are the times I absolutely cherish, and realize that, my personal dream, what I have put into this business (hours and a lot of hard work), and what I get back (I cannot do this alone – it is you that makes it happen), is what REALLY COUNTS!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Recently I have looked deeper into where I spend our money.  Yes, this decision is due to our (seemingly) shaky economy.  But it isn’t a matter of running to the cheapest place I can find to save some dollars.

My outlook is that small business is vital to the economic state of our country.

So, I have been making a very diligent effort to make my purchases at businesses that are as small as possible.  Yes, it means I spend a few more dollars.  But, think of about, if everyone stopped putting money in the hands of the big-big boys, and instead put their money in the hands of the individuals that own small businesses, what does that do for the economy, or even the local area? I see business owners (your neighbors and local folks) that could afford to buy fuel, food, Christmas gifts, repair their homes, and the list goes on.  If I were to make all of my purchases at the big-name department stores who am I helping? How does that help the individual? I am not sure that it does.

In the wake of Small Business Saturday (one day a year), I would like to see Small Business Saturday every week.  Or every day.

How can we go about doing this? We start small, of course.  Baby steps.  I pledge to begin #smallbizeveryday! Can we start a wave? Or, has the wave already started, and can we make it larger?

I pledge!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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What is the meaning of success?

I believe success is an individual state of being.

Success does not necessarily equate to a fancy car in the garage, or the ownership of money that flows into a bank account like free running water.

A business can be called successful because it reachs and exceeds it’s own set of goals.

Success is something that each person, each company, each entity determines (and pre-determines).   It is measured by goals, wants, wishes, and expectations in life.

And who says the meaning of success isn’t as simple as the ability to find true happiness and contentment in any situation in life?

Something to think about.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and feel the goodness.

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Compassion, a value to possess.  Sensitivity, don’t forget.

I hugged a friend who was recently declared free of cancer.  She looks so healthy.  She now has something missing.  Her very long hair.  Guess what else is missing? Empathy from others.  Strangers forget do not bother to see beyond her very short hair.  She really does not need to hear comments such as, “Why do they let people in here like that?” She is a cancer survivor that now is full of life, learning to put on a deaf ear.

I am not perfect.  I have caught myself thinking before I know the facts.  We always have room to get better, to grow,and to never judge the book by its cover.

P.S. My friend looks beautiful in her new “do.”

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps Smell and Feel the Goodness

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